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A Plaintiff’s Guide To Filing A Wrongful Death Claim

Wrongful death is when a negligent or an intentional act on the part of the defendant results in a death.

This can occur in a variety of situations, including:

● When the victim dies in an accident
● When the victim dies as a result of hazardous conditions

In some cases wrongful death claims may also be filed against a defendant who is also facing criminal charges.

Who Qualifies to file a Wrongful Death Suit?

A wrongful death claim is filed by a representative of the victim’s estate on behalf of surviving family members that have been affected as a result of the victim’s death. This representative is known as the plaintiff. To receive a settlement, the plaintiffs must prove that the defendant is liable. The plaintiffs in the claim must meet the same burden of proof that the victim would have met had they lived. Most importantly that have to prove that the defendant is liable for the death. Being liable means that the defendant did not practice reasonable care and this lack of diligence resulted in the death of the victim, and the death directly caused the damages that the plaintiff is trying to recover.

A wrongful death claim can also cover other situations that result in death except in the case of a work-related death which may be resolved through workman’s compensation.

What Kind Of Damages Are Awarded In A Wrongful Death Claim?

Damages are paid to the family for the cost of the death, including both tangible and intangible things. Some examples of damages include:

● Lost wages
● Future earnings
● Any medical costs incurred as a result of the accident and subsequent death.
● Funeral and burial expenses
● Emotional distress of surviving family and loved ones
● Loss of services and support
● Loss of companionship and company

What Happens in a Wrongful Death Claim?

If you feel you have a claim for wrongful death, there are some things you need to know and do and how long it may take:

● Retaining The Services Of A Wrongful Death Attorney

The representative of the estate should engage in a lawyer soon after the death. Talk to several lawyers, meet with them for a consultation and choose one that has a good track record of winning wrongful death claims. After selecting a lawyer and signing a fee agreement, they will start working on your case. Once the lawyer is hired, they will interview the representative for everything they know about the events leading to the death of the victim. They will obtain all medical records and bills, review police reports, and any other reports concerning the death.

● Fighting For A Fair Settlement

Once the lawyer completes their investigation, they may feel the wrongful death can be settled without a lawsuit. This is called pre-litigation. Your lawyer will make this demand to the defendant’s lawyer or insurance company and will negotiate for an acceptable amount for damages. This pre-ligation can settle a wrongful death claim out of court, especially when it is clear that the evidence is in your favor. A lawyer that is skilled in wrongful death claims will be able to complete a thorough investigation to minimize the possibility of having to go to trial.

● Going To Trial

If the mediation fails, your attorney will file a case with the courts and you will go to trial. A wrongful death trial can last a week or many years depending on the circumstances. Trials often get rescheduled or delayed and can be very frustrating for the family of the victim. Your attorney will determine if you will benefit by having a trial by jury, rather than having the judge settle the case. Often by doing so, the defense attorney know a jury will decide your case and will consider the settlement more seriously. Once in the courtroom the lawyers will both give opening statements, call witnesses, present evidence supporting their claim and then finish with a closing statement. The jury will then decide based on the evidence presented.

If you are ready to file a wrongful death claim, it is critical to work with an experienced attorney. At Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez, and Walsh, our attorneys specialize in wrongful death claims. Unlike other South Florida attorneys, we will fight for our clients all the way to trial if needed. Give us a call today for a free case evaluation and we’ll answer any questions and help you develop a plan to get justice for your lost loved one.

During his time as a public attorney for the State of Florida, Bernard Walsh developed a passion for defending the legal rights of Florida's citizens. Having seen many people being taken advantage of after being injured and the financial harm that can cause for families he committed himself fully to helping injured clients get justice, by fighting to make greedy insurance companies pay what they owe.

A Plaintiff’s Guide To Filing A Wrongful Death Claim

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh

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